Monday, December 21, 2015

Adding and subtracting

Only at a dinner party where you've known the guests for a long time could you hold up your plate and exclaim, "I'm eating spinach salad!"

This happened last week when I ate spinach for the first time in six years. Not that I was craving spinach. I had to eliminate as many other iron rich foods as possible because of the ferritin overload that was sitting on my liver due all those blood transfusions I had.

I knew all the bad consequences of  high ferritin, which I believe was 7,000 or more (micrograms per liter), compared to a normal level of 11-307. I chipped away at this by getting therapeutic phlebotomies (having a pint of blood removed every couple of months) and dissolving five nauseating Exjade tablets in water most mornings, downing, and waiting half an hour to eat. The tablets bind to iron and remove it from the bloodstream. I took periodic breaks because it was so hard on my stomach. It was a big day a few months ago when I learned that I was "normal" and did not need to renew my prescription.

So, bring on the spinach!

Now, for the subtracting.

I have decreased from three Budesonide tablets a day to two because the glucosteroid has gotten my collagenous colitis under control. In a month, I will check back in with my GI doctor in a month and hopefully continue to taper.

Any day I take fewer pills is a good day.

Finally, I am now going only every other Wednesday to Boston for ECP, or extracorporeal photopheresis, the light treatment that has worked wonders on my skin...and improved my overall movement and tennis game. This is my week off.

I never thought I would say this when I learned in May that I had to do this, but in a (small) way I will miss it. Not the transportation or the big needle in my arm for three hours, but the cheerful, funny nurses and the friendly, always smiling, physician's assistant and doctor.

My nurse practitioner, Melissa, had told me that she sometimes goes over to the Kraft Family Blood Donor for a feel-good visit, and while at first I didn't understand why, now I totally get it.

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